[ Taba Ajum ]
On 8 September, I started feeling unwell. I had severe body pain, fever, and cough. Immediately, I went for a rapid antigen test (RAT) along with my wife. Both of us tested COVID-19 negative.
However, as I was still feeling unwell, I decided to opt for the RT-PCR test on 10 September. To the shock of everyone, the result came positive. As I had mild symptoms, I was advised to immediately shift to the Covid care centre (CCC) at zoo road, which I did.
After I tested positive, the next step was to get my family members tested and call people who were in contact with me to get themselves tested.
Later, my wife, six-year-old daughter and cousin took the RT-PCR test, even though they did not exhibit any symptoms. All three tested positive.
Even as I was grappling with the illness, I called up people whom I had met and requested them to go for a test. Barring one friend who had visited my house and who tested positive, the rest tested negative. I was left drained mentally and physically.
As I settled down in the CCC, the guilt of passing on the virus to my family, friends and especially my six-year-old daughter hurt me deeply. It traumatized me for days, and I lived with guilt. Going to sleep was a nightmare.
Amid the trying times, I found hope from my loved ones. The support of family members, especially my wife and her colleagues at Rajiv Gandhi Government Polytechnic, my colleagues at The Arunachal Times, especially my deputy editor Tongam Rina and editor Dr Audrey Apang, and numerous other friends helped me fight the Covid-19 battle.
Till today I don’t know from where I got the virus. Since March, when the lockdown started, I have been occasionally going out on reporting duty, but have always maintained all the protocols prescribed by the health department. Wearing a mask and using sanitizer have been an integral part of my life. I am a reclusive person and hardly attend any social events. Therefore, I still can’t figure out where I got infected.
A lot of people think that Covid-19 is like ordinary flu and it does not affect the young people. While there may be some truth behind it, it is not exactly 100 percent true. I am a 36-year-old medically certified healthy person but still I contracted the virus and faced a torrid time in the first three days. The body ache was difficult, and the fever along with a severe cough made life miserable.
People should understand that the mortality rate due to Covid-19 is around 15 to 20 percent. People die because of Covid-19. The recent death of a 38-year-old sanitation worker from the RKMH due to Covid-19, with no medical history, is a classic example. There is a heavy mental and physical toll, too, for those who survive.
As I finally reunited with my son after 17 days, while the rest of the family was still quarantined, I wished that no one would contact the virus.
I look back and think of the doctors and the nurses. As soon as I reached the CCC, I felt I was in the safe hands of the doctors and the nurses. The staffers at the zoo road CCC were very kind and supportive. I was lucky to have been well-treated by the doctors and the nurses, as well as the support staff, including those who gave me food. I deeply thank them from the bottom of my heart.
However, I felt that there is a need for posting mental health professionals at the various CCCs. One of the main problems affecting a Covid-19 patient is the psychological issue. The patients need emotional and psychological support. I consider myself to be very strong mentally, but the feeling of guilt that I had infected my family, especially my daughter, deeply affected me. I did feel the need for psychological support and I am sure many others feel the same way. Also, the government is providing all the facilities free of cost at the CCCs. The government may consider charging nominal fees from those who can afford it and improve the quality of food at these centres.
I have recovered from Covid-19, but being isolated from the family for 17 days took a mental toll on me. People who think that Covid-19 is fake should change their mindset and accept that it is a serious virus that takes lives and affects the lives of those who survive it. Do not take it lightly.
As I was nearing the 10 days’ mandatory quarantine at the CCC, I heard the report that the doctor in charge of the zoo road CCC had also tested positive for Covid-19. I was deeply saddened to hear the news. Through this column, I express my immense respect for all the healthcare workers, as well as the administrative officials and the police engaged in the battle against Covid-19.
It is sad that some people, who are yet to educate themselves on how dangerous the virus is, are spreading rumours that the government makes money by increasing the number of Covid-19 patients in the state. Such rubbish talks are disrespectful to the sacrifices made by the healthcare workers who have been working for months now.
Therefore, in the interest of your loved ones and the state as whole, get yourself tested whenever you exhibit symptoms or have been close to anyone who is Covid-19 positive. Covid-19 can be defeated by testing, tracing and maintaining all SOPs.
As the winter approaches, the situation is going to get worse, according to experts. As I write this, the Covid-19 hospitals as well as the CCCs in the capital region are almost full. I hope we don’t land ourselves in a situation where it is beyond control. Get yourself tested for the sake and safety of our loved ones and our state.